Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II
The PowerShot G5 X Mark II will attract travellers, family photographers and casual snapshooters who want a compact camera that’s more versatile than a phone and takes better pictures.
The new camera benefits from four years of technological developments, including a new sensor and processing algorithms. The G5 X Mark II is noticeably more responsive than its predecessor with minimal capture lag plus fast autofocusing and shot processing, although we found the lens on the new camera not quite as sharp as the previous model.
It’s been almost four years since the original PowerShot G5 X was released so its Mark II successor, which was announced in July, is welcome. The new camera is pitched at much the same consumer level as its predecessor, although it’s a little less likely to appeal to serious enthusiasts. It will, however, attract travellers, family photographers and casual snapshooters who want a compact camera that is more versatile than their phone and takes better pictures. The new camera also benefits from four years of technological developments, including a new sensor and processing algorithms.
Front view of the PowerShot G5 X Mark II with the flash and EVF raised. (Source: Canon.)
Pocketability is a feature prized by many camera buyers and the G5 X II is even smaller than its predecessor and could just be squeezed into a shirt pocket, whereas the original G5 X would only fit the pocket of a jacket or coat. This makes the new camera even more attractive to travellers.
The G5 X Mark II’s body is more compact than the original G5 X and also 37 grams lighter. The SLR-like hump that housed the EVF on the previous model is gone and the 0.39 type, 2,360,000-dot EVF is recessed into the camera body. It pops up when you push down a lever on left hand side of the camera body and you have to pull out the eyepiece to use it.
A comparison of the front panels of two generations of the PowerShot G5 X; the top shows the Mark II model, while below it is the original G5 X. (Source: Canon.)
The dial control on the G5 X’s front panel is also gone but hasn’t been replaced, even though space is available on the front panel of the new model. The grip moulding is slightly deeper on the new camera, with sharper edges that some users will find a tad more secure and comfortable. The lens ring carries over but on the new camera it felt a little loose and synthetic; not such an integral part of the lens as it was previously.
As before, the lens extends automatically when power is switched on and retracts when the camera is switched off. A built-in cover acts like a blind to protect the lens when the camera is powered-down.
The top panels of two generations of the PowerShot G5 X; the upper one shows the Mark II model, while below it is the original G5 X. (Source: Canon.)
The top panel on the new camera has been radically redesigned. Removing the EVF hump has also dispensed with the hot-shoe, which means external flashguns can no longer be attached.
Although the EVF has the same resolution as the original G5 X’s screen, it’s not quite as friendly to use. For starters you have to pop it up and pull out the eyepiece. In addition, there’s no eyecup, which means your view can be affected by glare from ambient lighting,
Lowering the EVF into the camera body has pushed all the controls across to the right hand side of the camera. The dual mode and exposure compensation dials are now stacked, with the mode dial on the top and the EV+/- dial lying flush with the top panel. A cutout on the rear panel allows adjustments to be made with the user’s right thumb. The remaining controls are the same in both cameras.
Aside from the changes to the monitor’s anchor point(s), nothing much has changed on the rear panel of the new camera. Its thumb rest is slightly deeper and the movie button has been moved down to replace the AF frame selector/Story Highlights button on the original G5 X.
Story Highlights is gone from the new camera and the Delete function, which shared the AE-Lock button on the G5 X has been moved to share the Drive button on the Mark II’s arrow pad. The Wi-Fi button has been moved to the right side panel below the USB and HDMI terminals but the other controls remain unchanged in the new model.
As is usual in compact digicams, the battery and memory card share a compartment in the base of the camera. The NB-13L rechargeable battery is unchanged from the previous model but now it can be charged via the USB cable – although only one that supports the USB-C Power Delivery standard.
What Else is New?
The 5x optical zoom lens spans a range equivalent to 24-120 mm in 35mm format, which is slightly longer than the 24-100mm (equivalent) range of the lens on the original camera, although it provides the same maximum apertures ranging from f/1.8 to f/2.8. Its optical design consists of 13 elements in 11 groups, versus 11 elements in nine groups in the G5 X. Five-axis stabilisation is built-in, offering up to four stops of shake correction, up from three stops in the G5 X. The lens will focus to 5 cm at the 8.8mm ‘wide’ position and 20 cm at 44mm, an improvement on the 40 cm minimum of the G5 X.
Angled rear view of the PowerShot G5 X Mark II showing the tilting monitor screen.
Catering for snapshooters, the tilting monitor flips up through 180 degrees for ‘selfies’, rather than being fully articulated as on the original camera. Its resolution is unchanged and, as on the G5 X, touch controls are supported, including touch focus point selection and repositioning. The rear panel controls have been simplified, although key functions remain.
A comparison of the rear panels of two generations of the PowerShot G5 X; the top shows the Mark II model, while below it is the original G5 X. (Source: Canon.)
While offering much the same resolution, the sensor in the Mark II is totally new and features a stacked design that should produce a cleaner signal with lower noise levels. Resolution is the same as the original model’s sensor and the same aspect ratios are supported. Details can be found in our review of the PowerShot G5 X.
The new sensor is coupled with the latest DIGIC 8 image processor, which is faster than the DIGIC 6 chip in the previous model. The G5 X Mark II supports a native sensitivity range of ISO 125 to ISO12800, with extension to ISO 25600 available.
Thanks to the new sensor and processor, the new model includes an electronic shutter that can reach speeds up to 1/25600 second. Continuous shooting speeds have also increased from a maximum of 5.9 fps in the G5 X to 20 fps in one-shot mode or 30 fps in CR3.RAW format. the buffer memory can store up to 118 JPEGs, 89 C.RAW files or 55 CR3.RAW files at the top frame rate.
Video capabilities have also been brought up to date with support for 4K UHD capture at up to 30fps, although using it can be problematic (see below). The camera can also record in Full HD (1080p) resolution at up to 100 fps for PAL system users to produce half-speed slow-motion clips for playback. No microphone socket is provided and, without an accessory shoe there’s no place to mount an accessory mic.
Movies can be recorded in almost all shooting modes with auto or manual settings. Dynamic and Powered stabilisation is available for movies to compensate for shake when walking and at long focal length settings.
Other movie options include HDR (high dynamic range) movies and functions such as Time-Lapse and Star Time-Lapse, which records star trails. Battery capacity can limit recording times in this mode. The camera also includes a wind filter for suppressing wind noise in outdoor recordings as well as an attenuator for preventing audio distortion when recording in noisy conditions like concerts.
Canon has updated the menu system (shown above) to bring it into line with the EOS cameras. Included in the update is the option to choose ambience (the default) or white priority for auto white balance measurement, which appears to be standard in most recent cameras.
As expected, the interface connections were also updated to support the faster USB Type-C specification, which enables the camera to be charged via an optional PD-E1 adapter without removing the battery. Low-energy Bluetooth V. 4.1 replaces the NFC option for easy synching of the camera with a smart device. Built-in Wi-Fi also supports file sharing and remote control over key functions.
In-camera effects include Grainy B/W, Background Blur, Soft Focus, Fish-eye Effect, Art Bold Effect, Water Painting Effect, Toy Camera Effect and Miniature Effect. Also available is High Dynamic Range with three ‘artistic effect’ settings: art vivid, art bold and art embossed.
The standard Canon Picture style settings are provided and include Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome. Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Colour Tone and filter and toning effects are available for customising Picture Style settings. There are also three ‘User Defined’ memories.
Noise reduction options include a multi-shot mode that records four frames and combines them to minimise image noise. Face detection is also available, along with face tracking but not eye detection.
Most of the shooting modes are the same as those offered in the first-generation camera, including the dedicated Star Shooting modes, which can be used to capture photos and videos of the night sky while retaining their colours and clarity. The Hybrid Auto mode on the new camera automatically activates the Movie Digest function, which was introduced back in 2011 and records two-to-four second FHD/25p clips before each stills shot and combines them into a digest movie at the end of the day. Stills shots can be captured while recording movie clips.
While the 31-point contrast-based TTL autofocusing system is unchanged from the previous model, the new DIGIC 8 processor has made it quite a bit faster. However, its capabilities are less than competing cameras like Sony’s RX100 VII and below even entry-level EOS standards.
Canon has also retained the NB-13L lithium-ion battery. Marginally better power management gives the new camera a 20-shot advantage over its predecessor.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
As expected, the G5 X Mark II offers similar connectivity options to most modern cameras with the standard Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11b/g/n) capabilities. Low-energy Bluetooth replaces the NFC connection on the original G5 X and makes it easy to transfer images from the camera to a smart device. Canon’s irista cloud storage service is available to owners of this camera, offering 15GB of free storage space.
Playback and Software
Playback settings are similar to those provided by other Canon cameras and include a single-shot display with or without magnification, index playback and playback of digest movies. Basic editing is available for movie clips (including digest movies) and raw files can be converted into JPEGs in the camera. Single frames can also be extracted from RAW Burst sets.
Filter effects can be added to images post-capture and the results saved separately. Red-eye correction is available for flash shots. Cropping, resizing and rating of shots is also available and protect, rotate and delete functions can be applied to single or groups of images or video clips.
Image searching is supported with filters available for selecting shots taken at a specified time or according to rating. DPOF tagging is supported for automated printing and up to 998 images can be selected for inclusion in a photobook.
Both the software and user manuals have to be downloaded, which appears to be a popular trend. Buyers do receive a printed ‘Getting Started’ manual, which is fairly comprehensive and contains links to downloads of the comprehensive manual in PDF format as well as Canon’s software bundle includes Digital Photo Professional for converting CR3.RAW files, Picture Style Editor and registration tool and Image Transfer Utility 2. (The G5 X II is also supported in Version 11.4 or later of Adobe Camera Raw.)
Still images appeared reasonably sharp straight out of the camera but not quite as contrasty as the shots we obtained from the previous model. Imatest showed colour accuracy was not quite as good as we found with the PowerShot SX70HS, the last Canon camera we reviewed. Substantial colour shifts were found in reds, greens and darker skin tones.
The lens handled backlighting very well, despite the lack of a lens hood. Flare was minimal, even with the bright light source within the image frame. In-camera adjustments for dynamic range and shadow corrections probably contributed to such good performance.
Autofocusing was noticeably faster than we measured for the G5 X but just as accurate in various types of lighting, including indoors where contrast was low and at night in very low light levels. In bright lighting autofocusing was fast and accurate both for still shots and continuous refocusing during movie recordings.
Resolution declined gradually from about ISO 400 on as sensitivity was increased. Visible sharpness began to decline from about ISO 6400 on, leading to a noticeable softening at the two highest sensitivity settings. The graph below plots the results of our tests across the review camera’s sensitivity range.
Edge softening was more than we expected, given the results of the previous review but, as before, greatest with the 8.8mm focal length. The effects of diffraction became visible from about f/5.6 on, increasing to the minimum aperture of f/11. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.
Lateral chromatic aberration was negligible at all lens apertures and focal length settings, because it’s automatically corrected in-camera. We found no evidence of coloured fringing in test shots. The graph below shows the results of our tests, with the red line indicating the boundary between negligible and low CA.
The default auto white balance setting delivered similar results to the previous model, with close-to-neutral colours under fluorescent lighting and with the camera’s built-in flash but insufficient correction with incandescent and warm-toned LED lighting. The white priority setting went most of the way towards correcting warm biases.
No preset is provided for LED lighting but the tungsten and fluorescent pre-sets tended towards slight over-correction. No adjustments appeared to have been made with the flash pre-set. Manual measurement produced neutral colours under all four types of lighting.
Long exposures at night were generally clear and sharp, as you would expect from the ISO 3200 limit placed upon exposures longer than one second. Noise became visible in shots taken at ISO 6400 along with slight image softening.
Flash performance wasn’t quite as good as the previous model’s, probably because of the longer lens. We found significant under-exposure at the two lowest ISO settings although exposure consistency remained good from ISO 800 on. Shots taken with the two highest ISO settings showed visible softening but retained most of the contrast and colour saturation in images from lower ISO settings.
Evaluating video performance was interesting – to say the least. When we tried to record 4K video outdoors at about 9:15 a.m. in early September with the ambient temperature at about 18 degrees C, the camera posted a message that it was closing down due to overheating and couldn’t record. We tried again about 20 minutes later, after allowing the camera to ‘cool down’ but obtained the same result. Interestingly, there were no problems with recording at lower resolutions, even with 50 fps frame rates.
So we went home and put the camera in the fridge for 30 minutes and tried recording 4K video again. This time it worked. But it’s left us wondering what will happen when ambient temperatures rise above the high ‘teens. Perhaps we encountered a one-off situation with the review camera but it’s something potential buyers should be aware of (any necessary repairs should be covered under warranty).
Otherwise, the lower resolution clips were slightly less contrasty than the ones we recorded with the G5 X, which meant they looked better, although still not outstanding. Autofocusing locked quite quickly onto the main subject at the beginning of a clip but we found slight delays in re-focusing on moving subjects and when the camera was panned across a scene. Soundtracks were of average quality without much stereo presence.
Our timing tests were carried out with a 64GB Panasonic SDXC UHS-1 U3 memory card, which claims write transfer speeds of 90-95MB/second. The review camera powered up ready for shooting in around 1.5 seconds and took a similar amount of time to retract the lens and shut down.
With the lens at medium zoom we measured an average capture lag of 0.1 seconds, which was eliminated with pre-focusing. It took 0.3 seconds to process each high-resolution JPEG as well as each RAW+JPEG pair. Shot-to-shot times averaged 0.4 seconds without flash and 4.4 seconds with.
In the normal high-speed continuous shooting mode, the camera recorded 131 Large/Superfine JPEG frames in 6.9 seconds before pausing, which equates to just under 20 fps. It took 19 seconds to complete the processing of this burst. A low-speed continuous shooting mode is also available, which records at three frames/second and processes shots on-the-fly.
With RAW+JPEG pairs, the camera recorded 56 frames in 2.8 seconds before capture rates slowed, giving an average frame rate of 20 fps, which is in line with specifications. Processing this burst took just under 16.6 seconds.
In the special RAW burst mode, the review camera recorded 70 frames in 2.1 seconds before stalling. This equates to just under 30 fps, which matches specifications. Processing took a little less than 12.3 seconds.
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|Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II
|Sony RX100 VII
|13.2 x 8.8 mm CMOS sensor with 21 million photosites (20.1 megapixels effective)
|Lens focal lengths (35mm equiv.)
|W: Approx. 5 cm; T: Approx. 20 cm
|W: Approx. 8 cm, T: Approx. 100 cm
|Max. burst speed
|20 fps (30 fps in RAW Burst Mode)
|90 fps (20 fps with AF/AE)
|0.39- type, approx. 2,360,000 dots, -3.0 to +1 dioptre adjustment
|0.39-type OLED, 2,359,296 dots, -4.0 to +3.0m dioptre adjustment
|Tilting (up 180o, down 45o) 3-inch TFT LCD, 1,040,000 dots.
|Tilting (up 180o, down 90o) 3-inchTFT LCD, 921,600 dots
|230 shots/charge LCD; 180 shots/charge EVF
|260 shots/charge LCD; 240 shots/charge EVF
|110.9 x 60.9 x 46.0 mm
|101.6 x 58.1 x 42.8 mm
|Weight (with battery & card)
|Approx. 340 grams
|Approx. 302 grams
|Lowest street price (AU$)
Battery capacity is one area in which this camera falls short because the NB-13L battery is just too small. Although it is rated for 230 shots/charge when the monitor is used, we found the battery was close to depleted at the end of our timing tests despite being freshly charged when we started.
Selecting the Eco mode should boost the capacity to 320 shots/charge but it causes the screen to darken if the shots aren’t taken or adjustments made for two seconds, which can be irritating. It doesn’t provide much of a benefit, either, if you prefer to shoot using the EVF, where capacity is reduced due to higher power consumption.
Although the G5 X Mark II is a relatively recent arrival, discounting is relatively common and few re-sellers are charging Canon’s listed price. We found six online re-sellers listing this camera below AU$1200, with one as low as AU$1168. It’s not worth shopping off-shore since by the time you’ve accounted for currency conversion, shipping and GST the price you pay will be close to Canon’s listed price and well above typical local re-sellers’ prices.
Image sensor: 13.2 x 9.6 mm Stacked CMOS sensor with 20.9 million photosites (20.1 megapixels effective)
Image processor: DIGIC 8
A/D processing: 14-bit
Lens: 8.8-44mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens (24-120mm in 35mm format)
Zoom ratio: 5x optical; up to 4x digital zoom
Image formats: Stills – JPEG (DCF 2.0 / Exif 2.31) CR3.RAW; Movies – MP4 (MPEG-4 AVC / H.264) with stereo AAC-LC audio
Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 – 5472 x 3648, 3648 x 2432, 2736 x 1824, 1200 x 1600; 4:3 – 5472 x 3648, 3648 x 2432, 2432 x 1824, 2112 x 1600; 16:9 – 5472 x 3072, 3648 x 2048, 2736 x 1536, 2400 x 1344; 1:1 – 3648 x 3648, 2432 x 2432, 1824 x 1824, 1600 x 1600; all RAW files are 5472 x 3648; Movies – 4K (3840 x 2160) and Full HD (1920 x 1080)at 120Mbps, HD (1280 x 720) at 26Mbps.
Shutter speed range: 1 to 1/2000 seconds in Auto mode, 30-1/25600 sec. in all shooting modes; 1/8-1/2000 sec. for movies; plus Bulb (30-1/25600 sec. total range)
Integrated ND filter: Yes
Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay plus Custom (0-30 seconds delay, 1-10 shots)
Image Stabilisation: Yes, approx. 4 stops
Exposure Compensation: +/- 3EV in 1/3 EV steps
Bracketing: AEB – 1/3 to 2 EV in 1/3 stop increments
Focus system/range: TTL AiAF with AF-S, AF-C, Servo and Touch AF modes; range: 5 cm to infinity at 8.8mm; 20 cm to infinity at 44mm
Focus area selection: 31-point, Face Detection or Touch AF with Object and Face Select and Track, Touch and Drag, 1-point AF (any position is available or fixed centre)
Exposure metering/control: Real-time metering using the image sensor with Evaluative, Centre Weighted and Spot modes
Shooting modes: Auto/Hybrid Auto, Special Scene, P, Tv, Av, M, Custom, Movie, Creative Filters
Special Scene modes: Self Portrait, Portrait, Food, Handheld Night Scene, HDR Backlight Control, Fireworks, Panorama, Panning, Star Portrait, Star Landscape, Star Trails, Star Time-Lapse Movie
Picture Styles: Auto, Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Fine Detail, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Def. x3
Creative Filters: Smooth Skin, Monochrome, Background Defocus, Soft Focus, Fish-Eye Effect, Like Watercolour Paintings, Toy Camera Effect, Miniature Effect
Colour space: sRGB
ISO range: Auto, ISO 125-12800 selectable in 1/3 EV steps; Expansion to ISO 25600 available
White balance: Auto (Ambience & White priority), Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, White Fluorescent, Flash, Colour Temp, Custom; White Balance Correction
Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Manual Flash On / Off, Slow Sync; red-eye reduction is available / 50 cm to 7.5 m (W), 50 cm to 4.5 m (T); +/-2EV of adjustment in 0.3 stop increments
Sequence shooting: Max.30 frames/second RAW; 20 fps one-shot, 8 fps Servo mode
Buffer memory depth: 122 JPEG, 71 RAW, 57 RAW+JPEG
Storage Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS Speed Class 1 compatible)
Viewfinder: 0.39 type EVF with approx. 2,360,000 dots, 100% frame coverage, 20mm eye point, -3.0 to +1 dioptre correction
LCD monitor: Tilting 3-inch TFT LCD with 3:2 aspect ratio. Approx. 1,040,000 dots. Electrostatic Capacitive Touchscreen, five adjustable brightness levels
Interface terminals/communications: USB Type-C/ Bluetooth; Wi-Fi (IEEE802.11b/g/n), (2.4 GHz only), 1-11ch
Power supply: NB-13L rechargeable lithium-ion battery; CIPR rated for approx. 230 shots/charge with LCD or 180 shots/charge with EVF
Dimensions (wxhxd): 110.9 x 60.9 x 46.0 mm
Weight: Approx. 340 grams (with battery and memory card)
Distributor: Canon Australia; 1800 021 167; www.canon.com.au.
Based on Large/Fine JPEGs.
Based on CR2.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting.
Auto white balance with flash lighting.
ISO 125, 30-second exposure at f/2.8; 18mm focal length.
ISO 400, 15-second exposure at f/3.5; 18mm focal length.
ISO 1600, 5-second exposure at f/4.0; 18mm focal length.
ISO 6400, 1-second exposure at f/3.2; 18mm focal length.
ISO 12800, 1-second exposure at f/5.0; 18mm focal length.
ISO 25600, 1-second exposure at f/7.1; 18mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 125; 1/60 second at f/2.8; 44mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 400; 1/60 second at f/2.8; 44mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 1600; 1/60 second at f/2.8; 44mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 1/100 second at f/4.0; 44mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 1/200 second at f/5.6; 44mm focal length.
Flash exposure at ISO 25600; 1/250 second at f/9.0; 44mm focal length.
8.8mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/800 second at f/5.6.
44mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/500 second at f/5.6.
1.6x digital zoom; 44mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/250 second at f/5.6.
2x digital zoom; 44mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/320 second at f/5.6.
Close-up in Macro mode; 8.8mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/60 second at f/5.6.
Close-up in Macro mode; 44mm focal length, ISO 500, 1/250 second at f/5.6.
Close-up in Macro mode; 26mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/200 second at f/5.6.
Flare; 8.8mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/1600 second at f/8.
Strong backlighting; 8.8mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/1600 second at f/6.3.
1:1 aspect ratio; mixed indoor lighting; 44mm focal length, ISO 500, 1/250 second at f/2.8.
8.8mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/60 second at f/4.0.
27mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/1000 second at f/4.0.
44mm focal length, ISO 25600, 1/1600 second at f/5.6.
40mm focal length, ISO 400, 1/200 second at f/2.8.
8.8mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/125 second at f/4.0.
8.8mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/1600 second at f/7.1.
44mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/400 second at f/4.0.
44mm focal length, ISO 125, 1/250 second at f/5.6.
16mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/100 second at f/5.6.
Still frame from 4K/25p video clip.
Still frame from Full HD 1080/50p video clip.
Still frame from Full HD 1080/25p video clip.
Still frame from HD 720/50p video clip.
RRP: AU$1430; US$899.99
- Build: 8.8
- Ease of use: 8.7
- Autofocusing: 8.9
- Image quality JPEG: 8.5
- Image quality RAW: 8.8
- Video quality: 8.5